"TITTER YE NOT"
Twelve monks were about to be ordained. The final test was for them to line up nude while a nude model danced before them. Each monk had a small bell attached to his penis and they were told that anyone whose bell rang would not be ordained because he had not reached a state
The model danced before the first monk candidate with no reaction. She proceeded down the line with the same response until she got to the final monk. As she danced, his bell rang so loudly that it fell off and clattered to the ground. Embarrassed, he bent down to pick up the bell, and all the other bells went off.
Me and some of the other monks have been trying to raise money to replace the monastery roof.
My idea of a swear box has raised absolutely fuck ... has raised a quid so far.
I've got a drinking habit.
An alcoholic monk gave it to me.
Knights Templar Grand Priory
of England & Wales
THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon
Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici),
commonly known as the Knights Templars , the Order of
Solomon's Temple (French:
Ordre du Temple or Templiers) or
simply as Templars, were among the most wealthy and powerful
of the Western Christian military orders and were prominent
actors in Christian finance. The organization existed for nearly
two centuries during the Middle Ages.
Officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church around 1129,
the Order became a favoured charity throughout Christendom
and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in
their distinctive white mantles with a red cross , were among the
most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant
members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure
throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that
were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades ; when the Holy Land was lost,
support for the Order faded. Rumours about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created
mistrust and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the
situation. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested,tortured into giving
false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope
Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the
European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar"
name alive into the modern day.
After the First Crusade recaptured Jerusalem in
1099, many Christians made pilgrimages to various Holy Places in the Holy Land. However,
though the city of Jerusalem was under relatively secure control, the rest of Outremer was not.
Bandits and marauding highwaymen preyed upon pilgrims who were routinely slaughtered,
sometimes by the hundreds, as they attempted to make the journey from the coastline at Jaffa
into the interior of the Holy Land.
In 1119, the French knight Hugues de Payens approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and
Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and proposed creating a monastic order for the protection
of these pilgrims. King Baldwin and Patriarch Warmund agreed to the request, probably at the
Council of Nablus in January 1120, and the king granted the Templars a headquarters in a wing of
the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Temple Mount had a
mystique because it was above what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. The
Crusaders therefore referred to the Al Aqsa Mosque as Solomon's Temple, and from this location the new Order took the name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or "Templar" knights. The Order, with about nine knights including Godfrey de Saint-Omer and André de Montbard, had few financial resources and relied on donations to survive. Their emblem was of two knights riding on a single horse, emphasising the Order's poverty.
The impoverished status of the Templars did not last long. They had a powerful advocate in Saint Bernard of Clairvaux , a leading Church figure, French abbot primarily responsible for the founding of the Cistercian Order of monks and a nephew of André de Montbard, one of the founding knights. Bernard put his weight behind them and wrote persuasively on their behalf in the letter 'In Praise of the New Knighthood', and in 1129, at the Council of Troyes, he led a group of leading churchmen to officially approve and endorse the Order on behalf of the Church. With this formal blessing, the Templars became a favoured charity throughout Christendom, receiving money, land, businesses, and noble-born sons from families who were eager to help with the fight in the
Holy Land. Another major benefit came in 1139, when Pope Innocent II's papal bull Omne Datum Optimum exempted the Order
from obedience to local laws. This ruling meant that the Templars could pass freely through all borders, were not required to pay any taxes, and were exempt from all authority except that of the pope.
With its clear mission and ample resources, the Order grew Templars were often the advance shock troops in key battles
of the Crusades, as the heavily armoured knights on their war horses would set out to charge at the enemy, ahead of the main army bodies, in an attempt to break opposition lines. One of their most famous victories was in 1177 during the Battle of
Montgisard, some 500 Templar knights helped several
thousand infantry to defeat Saladin's army of more than 26,000 soldiers.
Although the primary mission of the Order was military,
relatively few members were combatants. The others acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the financial infrastructure. The Templar Order, though its members were sworn to individual poverty was given control of wealth
A nobleman who was interested in participating in the Crusades
might place all his assets under Templar management while he was away.
Accumulating wealth in this manner throughout Christendom and the Outremer, the Order in 1150 began generating letters of credit for pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land:
pilgrims deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptory before embarking, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, then used that document upon arrival in the Holy Land to retrieve their funds in an amount of treasure of equal value.
This innovative arrangement was an early form of banking and may have been the first formal system to support the use of
cheques; it improved the safety of pilgrims by making them less attractive targets for thieves, and also contributed to the Templar
A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.
Bernard de Clairvaux, c. 1135, De Laude Novae Militae—In Praise of the New Knighthood
Based on this mix of donations and business dealing , the Templars established financial networks across the whole of Christendom. They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built churches and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of Cyprus. The Order of the Knights Templar arguably qualifies as the world's first multinational corporation.
In the mid-12th century, the tide began to turn in the Crusades. The Muslim world had become more united under effective leaders such as Saladin , and dissension arose amongst Christian factions in, and concerning, the Holy Land. The Knights Templar were occasionally at odds with the two other Christian military orders, the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights, and decades of internecine feuds weakened Christian positions, both politically and militarily. After the Templars were involved in several unsuccessful campaigns, including the pivotal Battle of the Horns of Hattin, Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim forces under Saladin in 1187. The Crusaders regained the city in 1229, without Templar aid, but held it only briefly. In 1244, the Khwarezmi Turks
recaptured Jerusalem, and the city did not return to Western control until 1917 when the British captured it from the Ottoman Turks in World War I.
The Crusades ("Eyes Without a Face" by Billy Idol)
The Templars were forced to relocate their headquarters to other cities
in the north, such as the seaport of Acre, which they held for the next
century. It was lost in 1291, followed by their last mainland
strongholds, Tortosa (Tartus in what is now Syria ) and Atlit in
Their headquarters then moved to Limassol on the island of Cyprus,
and they also attempted to maintain a garrison on tiny Arwad Island,
just off the coast from Tortosa. In 1300, there was some attempt to
engage in coordinated military efforts with the Mongols via a new
invasion force at Arwad. In 1302 or 1303, however, the Templars lost
the island to the Egyptian Mamluks in the Siege of Arwad. With the
island gone, the Crusaders lost their last foothold in the Holy Land.
With the Order's military mission now less important, support for the
organisation began to dwindle. The situation was complex, however,
since during the two hundred years of their existence, the Templars
had become a part of daily life throughout Christendom . The
organisation's Templar Houses, hundreds of which were dotted throughout Europe and the Near East, gave them a widespread presence at the local level.
The Templars still managed many businesses, and many Europeans had daily contact with the Templar network, such as by working at a Templar farm or vineyard, or using the Order as a bank in which to store personal valuables. The Order was still not subject to local government, making it everywhere a "state within a state" —its standing army, though it no longer had a well defined mission, could pass freely through all borders. This situation heightened tensions with some European nobility, especially as the Templars were indicating an interest in founding their own monastic state, just as the Teutonic Knights had done in Prussia and the Knights Hospitaller were doing in Rhodes.
In 1305, the new Pope Clement V, based in Avignon, France, sent letters to both the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaretto discuss the possibility of merging the two Orders. Neither was amenable to the idea, but Pope Clement persisted, and in 1306 he invited both Grand Masters to France to discuss the matter. De Molay arrived first in early 1307, but de Villaret was delayed for several months. While waiting, De Molay and Clement discussed criminal charges that had been made two years earlier by an ousted Templar and were being discussed by King Philip IV of France and his ministers. It was generally agreed that the charges were false, but Clement sent the king a written request for assistance in the investigation. According to some historians, King Philip, who was already deeply in debt to the Templars from his war with the English, decided to seize upon the rumors for his own purposes. He began pressuring the Church to take action against the Order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts.
The French king's motivations went beyond merely financial though. By charging the Templars with heresy, the monarchy was also claiming for itself a charism proper to the papacy. The Templar case was another step in a process of appropriating these foundations, which had begun with the Franco-papal rift at the time of Boniface VIII.
Temple Church (London) of the Knights Templar, Commandery headquarters.
At dawn on Friday, 13 October 1307 (a date sometimes spuriously linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th
superstition) King Philip IV ordered de Molay and other
French Templars to be simultaneously arrested.
The arrest warrant started with the phrase:
"Dieu n'est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dan Royaume" "God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom".
Claims were made during Templar admissions ceremonies, recruits were forced to spit on the cross, deny Christ, and engage in indecent kissing; brethren were also accused of worshiping idols, and the order was said to have
encouraged homosexual practices . The Templars were charged with numerous other offences such as financial corruption, fraud, and secrecy. Many of the accused confessed to these charges under torture, and these confessions, even though obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris. The prisoners were coerced to confess that they had spat on the Cross:
"Moi, Raymond de La Fère, 21 ans, reconnais que [j'ai] craché trois fois sur a Croix, mais de bouche et pas decœur" (free translation:
"I, Raymond de La Fère, 21 years old, admit that I have spat three times on the Cross, but only from my mouth and not from my heart"). The Templars were accused of idolatry and were suspected of worshipping either a figure known as Baphomet or a mummified severed head they recovered, amongst other artifacts, at their original headquarters on the Temple mount that many scholars theorize might have been that of John the Baptist, among other things.
Picture re-creating the historical Temple of Solomon excavated by the Knights Templar.
Relenting to Phillip's demands, Pope Clement then issued the papal
bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on 22 November 1307, which
instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and
seize their assets. Pope Clement called for papal hearings to
determine the Templars' guilt or innocence, and once freed of the
Inquisitors' torture, many Templars recanted their confessions. Some
had sufficient legal experience to defend themselves in the trials, but
in 1310, having appointed the archbishop of Sens, Philippe de
Marigny, to lead the investigation, Philip blocked this attempt, using
the previously forced confessions to have dozens of Templars
burned at the stake in Paris.
With Philip threatening military action unless the pope complied with
his wishes, Pope Clement finally agreed to disband the Order, citing
the public scandal that had been generated by the confessions. At
the Council of Vienne in 1312, he issued a series of papal bulls,
including Vox in excelso , which officially dissolved the Order, and Ad
providam, which turned over most Templar assets to the Hospitallers. As for the leaders of the Order, the elderly Grand Master
Jacques de Molay, who had confessed under torture, retracted his confession. Geoffroi de Charney , Preceptor of Normandy, also retracted his confession and insisted on his innocence. Both men were declared guilty of being relapsed heretics, and they were sentenced to burn alive at the stake in Paris on the 18th of March 1314. De Molay reportedly remained defiant to the end, asking to be tied in such a way that he could face the Notre Dame Cathedral and hold his hands together in prayer.
According to legend, he called out from the flames that both Pope Clement and King Philip would soon meet him before God. His
actual words were recorded on the parchment as follows :
"Dieu sait qui a tort et a péché. Il vabientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort" (free translation :
"God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death"). Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died in a hunting accident before the end of the year.
With the last of the Order's leaders gone, the remaining Templars around Europe were either arrested and tried under the Papal investigation (with virtually none convicted), absorbed into other military orders such as the Knights Hospitaller, or pensioned off and allowed to live out their days peacefully. By papal decree, the property of the Templars was transferred to the Order of Hospitallers, which also absorbed many of the Templars' members. In effect, the dissolution of the Templars could be seen as the merger of the two rival orders. Some may have fled to other territories outside Papal control, such as excommunicated Scotland or to Switzerland. Templar organisations in Portugal simply changed their name, from Knights Templar to Knights of Christ .
In September 2001, a document known as the " Chinon Parchment " dated the 17th–20th of August 1308 was discovered in the
Vatican Secret Archives by Barbara Frale, apparently after having been filed in the wrong place in 1628. It is a record of the trial of the Templars and shows that Clement absolved the Templar's of all heresies in 1308 before formally disbanding the Order in 1312,
as did another Chinon Parchment dated the 20th of August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, also mentioning that all Templars that had confessed to heresy were "restored to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church". This other Chinon Parchment
has been well known to historians, having been published by Étienne Baluze in 1693 and by Pierre Dupuy in 1751.
The current position of the Roman Catholic Church is that the medieval persecution of the Knights Templar was unjust, that nothing was inherently wrong with the Order or its Rule, and that Pope Clement was pressed into his actions by the magnitude of the public
scandal and by the dominating influence of King Philip IV , who was Clement's relative.
The Templars were organised as a monastic order similar to Bernard's Cistercian Order , which was considered the first effective international organisation in Europe. The organisational structure had a strong chain of authority. Each country with a major Templar presence (France, Poitou, Anjou, Jerusalem, England, Aragon, Portugal, Apulia, Tripoli, Antioch, Hungary, and Croatia) had a
Master of the Order for the Templars in that region.
All of them were subject to the Grand Master , appointed for life, who oversaw both the Order's military efforts in the East and their
financial holdings in the West. The Grand Master exercised his authority via the visitors-general of the order, who were knights specially appointed by the Grand Master and convent of Jerusalem to visit the different provinces, correct malpractices, introduce new regulations, and resolve important disputes. The visitors-general had the power to remove knights from office and to suspend the Master of the province concerned. No precise numbers exist, but it is estimated that at the Order's peak there were between 15,000 and 20,000 Templars, of whom about a tenth were actual knights.
There was a threefold division of the ranks of the Templars:
the noble knights, the non-noble sergeants,and the chaplains. The
Templars did not perform knighting ceremonies, so any knight wishing to become a Knight Templar had to be a knight already. They
were the most visible branch of the order, and wore the famous white mantles to symbolise their purity and chastity . They were
equipped as heavy cavalry, with three or four horses and one or two squires. Squires were generally not members of the Order but were instead outsiders who were hired for a set period of time. Beneath the knights in the Order and drawn from non-noble families were the sergeants. They brought vital skills and trades such as black smithing and building, and administered many of the Order's European properties. In the Crusader States, they fought alongside the knights as light cavalry with a single horse. Several of the Order's most senior positions were reserved for sergeants, including the post of Commander of the Vault of Acre, who was the de facto Admiral of the Templar fleet. The sergeants wore black or brown. From 1139, chaplains constituted a third Templar class. They were ordained priests who cared for the Templar's' spiritual needs. All three classes of brother wore the Order's red cross patty.
The Knights Templars: warrior monks.
Starting with founder Hugues de Payens in 1118–1119, the Order's highest office was that of Grand Master, a position which was held for life, though considering the martial nature of the Order, this could mean a very short tenure. All but two of the Grand Masters died in office, and several died during military campaigns. For example, during the Siege of Ascalon in 1153, Grand Master Bernard de Tremelay led a group of Templars through a breach in the city walls. When the rest of the Crusader army did not follow, the Templars, including their Grand Master, were surrounded and beheaded.
Grand Master Gérardde Ridefort was beheaded by Saladin in 1189 the Siege of Acre. The Grand Master oversaw all of the operations of the Order, including both the military operations in the Holy Land and Eastern Europe and the Templars 'financial
and business dealings ln Western Europe. Some Grand Masters also served as battlefield commanders, though this was not always wise:
several blunders in de Ridefort's combat leadership contributed to the devastating defeat at the Battle of Hattin.
Founder Hugues de Payens devised a code of behaviour for the Templar Order known to modern historians as the Latin Rule . Its 72 clauses defined the ideal behaviour for the Knights, such as the types of garments they were to wear and how many horses they could have. Knights were to take their meals in silence, eat meat no more than three times per week, and not have physical contact of any kind with women, even members of their own family. A Master of the Order was assigned "4 horses, and one chaplain-brother and one clerk with three horses, and one sergeant brother with two horses, and one gentleman valet to carry his shield and lance, with one horse." As the Order grew, more guidelines were added, and the original list of 72 clauses was expanded to several hundred in its final form.
One of the many reported flags of the
The knights wore a white surcoat with a red cross and a white mantle also with a red cross; the sergeants wore a black tunic with a red cross on the front and a black or brown mantle. The white mantle was assigned to the Templars at the Council of Troyes in 1129, and the cross was most probably added to their robes at the launch of the Second Crusade in 1147, when Pope Eugenius III , King Louis VII of France, and many other notables attended a meeting of the French Templars at their headquarters near Paris.
According to their Rule, the knights were to wear the white mantle at all times, even being forbidden to eat or drink unless they were wearing it.
The red cross that the Templars wore on their robes was a symbol of martyrdom , and to die in combat was considered a great honour that assured a place in heaven. There was a cardinal rule that the warriors of the Order should never surrender unless the Templar flag had fallen, and even then they were first to try to regroup with
another of the Christian orders, such as that of the Hospitallers. Only after all
flags had fallen were they allowed to leave the battlefield.
This uncompromising principle, along with their reputation for courage, excellent
training, and heavy armament, made the Templars one of the most feared
combat forces in medieval times. Although not prescribed by the Templar Rule, it
beards . In about 1240, Alberic of Trois-Fontaines described the Templars as an
"order of bearded brethren"; while during the interrogations by the papal
commissioners in Paris in 1310–11, out of nearly 230 knights and brothers
questioned, 76 are described as wearing a beard, in some cases specified as
being "in the style of the Templars", and 133 are said to have shaved off their
beards, either in renunciation of the order or because they had hoped to escape
Initiation, known as Reception (receptio) into the Order, was a profound
commitment and involved a solemn ceremony. Outsiders were discouraged from
attending the ceremony, which aroused the suspicions of medieval inquisitors
during the later trials. New members had to willingly sign over all of their wealth
and goods to the Order and take vows of poverty, chastity, piety , and
obedience. Most brothers joined for life, although some were allowed to join for a
set period. Sometimes a married man was allowed to join if he had his wife's
permission, but he was not allowed to wear the white mantle.
With their military mission and extensive financial resources, the Knights Templar
funded a large number of building projects around Europe and the Holy Land.
Many of these structures are still standing. Many sites also maintain the name "Temple" because of centuries-old association with the Templars. For example, some of the Templars' lands in London were later rented to lawyers, which led to the names of the Temple Bar gateway and the Temple Underground station. Two of the four Inns of Court which may call members to act as barristers are the Inner Temple and Middle Temple.
Distinctive architectural elements of Templar buildings include the use of the image of " two knights on a single horse ", representing the Knights' poverty, and round buildings designed to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The story of the persecution and sudden dissolution of the secretive yet powerful medieval Templars has drawn many other groups to use alleged connections with the Templars as a way of enhancing their own image and mystery. There is no clear historical connection between the Knights Templar, which were dismantled in the Rolls of the Catholic Church in 1309 with the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay, and any of the modern organisations, of which, except for the Scottish Order, the earliest emerged publicly in
the 18th century. There is often public confusion and many overlook the 400-year gap. However, in 1853, Napoleon III officially recognized the OSMTH. The Order operates on the basis of the traditions of the medieval Knights Templar, celebrating the spirit of, but not claiming direct descent from the ancient Order founded by Hugues de Payens in 1118 and dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312.
Since at least the 18th century, Freemasonry has incorporated Templar symbols and rituals in a number of Masonic bodies, most
notably, the "Order of the Temple" the final order joined in "The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of
St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta" commonly known as the Knights Templar. One theory of the origins of Freemasonry claims direct descent from the historical KnightsTemplar through its final fourteenth century members who took refuge in Scotland whose King, Robert the Bruce was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church at the time, or in Portugal where the order changed its name to Knights of Christ, other members having joined Knights of St. John. There have even been claims that some of the Templars who made it to Scotland contributed to the Scots' victory at Bannockburn. This theory is usually deprecated on grounds of lack of evidence, by both Masonic authorities and historians.
Knights Templar Seal - JF by Jangelles
The Roman Catholic Church has historically opposed Freemasonry since it began
to emerge, under the belief that the group is a " Secret Society " and has a deep
hidden agenda that opposes the church and its beliefs. Members of the Church found to have a mistaken conclusion that the Church's prohibition of Freemasonry had been dropped. As a result of this confusion, shortly before the 1983 code was promulgated, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement indicating that the penalty was still in force. This statement was dated
November the 26th, 1983 and may be found in Origins 13th-27th (Nov the 15th, 1983), 450.
Based on masonic speculation and popular literature since the 19th century, the Templars and associated "legends" or "mysteries" have become a common trope in modern pop culture. Beginning in the 1960s, there have been speculative popular publications surrounding the Order's early occupation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and speculation about what relics the Templars may have found there,
such as the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, or the historical accusation of idol worship (Baphomet) transformed into a context of "witchcraft".
The association of the Holy Grail with the Templars goes back to the 12th century
fiction; Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival calls the knights guarding the Grail Kingdom temple is apparently a conscious fictionalisation of the templarii. Modern fictionalisation of the Templars begins with
Ivanhoe, the 1820 novel by Walter Scott, where the villain Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert is a "Templar Knight".
The popular treatment of the Templars as a topic of esotericist "legend" and "mystery" begins in the later 20th century. The historical
novel series Les Rois maudits (1955-1977) by Maurice Druon depicts the death of the last Grand Master of the Order, and plays with the legend of the curse he laid on the pope, Philip the Fair and Guillaume de Nogaret. Esotericist treatments become common in the 1980s. Among them, the 1982 The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail would prove most influential.
The 1988 novel by Umberto Eco Foucault's Pendulum satirizes the presentation of the Templars in esotericist or pseudo historical conspiracy theories. A revival of the 1980s themes took place in the 2000s due to the commercial success of The Da Vinci Code,
the 2003 novel by Dan Brown (adapted into a film version in 2006).
The history of the Knights Templar in England began when the French nobleman Hughes de Payens, the founder and Grand Master
of the order of the Knights Templar, visited the country in 1128 to raise men and money for the Crusades. King Henry II (1154–1189) granted the Templars land across England, including some territory by Castle Baynard on the River Fleet, where they built a round
church, patterned after the Knights Templar headquarters on Temple Mount
in Jerusalem. The Templar estate at Cressing Temple in Essex was one of
the very earliest and largest Templar estates in England.
The Order was also given the advowson (right of use) of St Clement Danes.
In 1184, the Templars' headquarters was transferred to the New Temple
( Temple Church ) in London where once again they built a round church,
this one patterned after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It
was consecrated in 1185, and became the location for initiation rituals.
An inventory by Geoffrey Fitz Stephen reveals that by 1185, the Order of
the Knights Templar had extensive holdings in London, Hertfordshire,
Essex, Kent, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Salop, Oxfordshire, Cornwall,
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. The involvement of Templars in financial
matters is highlighted by Walter of Coventry's story of Gilbert de Ogrestan,
the Knight Templar accused of embezzling taxes collected in the Saladin
tithe of 1188. He was severely punished by his contemporary Master.
In 1200, Pope Innocent III issued a Papal Bull declaring the immunity of
persons and goods within the houses of the Knights Templar from local
laws. This ensured that the New Temple became a royal treasury as well as
the repository for the order's accumulated revenues. These financial
resources provided the basis for the development of the Templar's local banking facilities. King Richard I (1189-1199) confirmed the
Templars land holdings and granted them immunity from all pleas, suits danegeld and from murdrum and latrocinium.
King John (1199–1216) had substantial financial dealings with the Knights Templar. At the time of Runnymede, not only was
Aymeric de St Maur present, but King John was also resident at the Temple when the Barons first presented their demands. He awarded them the island of Lundy as well as land at Huntspill, Cameley, Harewood, Radnage and Northampton.
King Henry III (1207–1272) also had substantial dealing with Templars, the king's Wardrobe being located there in 1225. He entrusted Templar knights with military, financial and diplomatic commissions, and even considered being buried in the Temple. He did in fact establish a chantry there in 1231.
King Edward I (1239–1307) had accorded the Knights Templar a slighter role in public
affairs, financial issues often being handled by Italian merchants and diplomacy by
mendicant orders. Indeed Edward I raided the treasury in 1283.
When Philip IV, King of France suppressed the order in 1307, King Edward II of England
at first refused to believe the accusations. But after the intercession of Pope Clement V,
King Edward ordered the seizure of members of the order in England on the 8th of January
1308. Only handfuls of Templars were duly arrested, however. Their trial ran from the 22nd
of October 1309 until the 18th of March 1310 in front of Deo datus, Abbot of Lagny and
Sicard de Vaur. Most of the Templars acknowledged their belief that the Order's Master
could give absolution was heretical, and were then reconciled with the church. However
Willian de la More refused to do so and remained a prisoner in the Tower of London until
In 1312, under further pressure from King Philip IV of France, Pope Clement V officially
disbanded the Order at the Council of Vienne. In 1314, the remaining Templar leaders in
France were executed, some by being burned at the stake. Clement issued a Papal Bull which granted the lands of the Templars to the Knights Hospitaller, but this was ignored until 1324. Starting in 1347, the priests started letting (renting) part of the Temple to lawyers, from which the evolution of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple as Inns of Court derives.
Templars being burned at the stake.
Between the 13th of October 1307 and the 8th of January 1308, the Templars went unmolested in England. During this period many fugitive Templars, seeking to escape torture and execution, fled to apparent safety there. But after repeated pressure from Philip
IV and Clement V on Edward II, a few half-hearted arrests were made. During a trial running from the 22nd of October 1309 until the 18th of March 1310 most of the arrested Templars were forced to acknowledge the belief that the Order's Master could give
absolution was heretical , and were officially reconciled with the church, many entering more conventional monastic Orders.
Most Templars in England were never arrested, and the persecution of their leaders was brief. The order was dissolved due to
damaged reputation, but given the pope and church's judgement of the order as free from guilt, all members in England were free to find themselves a new place in society. Templar lands and assets were given to the Order of the Hospital of Saint John, a sister military order—though the English crown held onto some assets until 1338. The largest portion of former Templars joined the Hospitallers , while other remaining members joined the Cistercian order, or lived on a pension as lay members of society. The loss of the Holy Land as a base for war against the heathen had removed the primary reason for Templar existence, and the dissolved
order now faded into history, in England as well as the rest of Europe. No clandestine secret-keeping, hiding, or underground organisations were necessary, though stories from later centuries often make use of the idea of a continuing, secret Templar presence.
Baldock in Hertfordshire was a town founded by the Knights Templar and between 1199 and 1254 it was their English headquarters. The Hertford Mercury newspaper reported a warren of Templar tunnels beneath the town of Hertford, centering on Hertford Castle, where in 1309 four Templars from Temple Dinsley near Hitchin were imprisoned after their arrest by Edward II, who believed that they were holding a lost treasure. Modern tradition has it that after the persecution began the Templars were forced to meet in caves, tunnels and cellars in Hertfordshire and elsewhere in southeast England. However, the brief and modest persecution in England is unlikely have necessitated this, as remaining members could, even around 1310, meet at the house or room of a friend not under arrest—which would have been most Templars.
But after lying undiscovered for at least 300 years, workmen accidentally stumbled upon Royston Cave (August 1742), hidden under a heavy millstone and a covering of soil. The cave's discovery created much excitement. Today, it still awes and inspires visitors who can see carvings depicting, among other images, knights, Saint George and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Before the brief persecution, the Templars, assuming the cave was theirs, had no reason to hide below the ground, and they had wealth and access to stonemasons if they required religious carvings. It is thus suggested by storytellers and a few historians that Royston
Caves evidence 'fugitive' Templars continued to meet and worship in secret after the disbandment.
Knights Templar tombs at Temple Church.
Much of Strood, Kent was a royal manor until Henry II gave it to the Knights Templar around 1159. The Templars had assembled a range of buildings in Strood by 1185, which included a timber hall, barns, kitchens and stables. The stone building, which has survived to the present day, was added
around 1240. It consists of a vaulted undercroft supporting a large,
undivided first- floor hall, approached by an external staircase. This was probably a part of the range of facilities designed for the temporary accommodation of travelling Templar dignitaries.
Nearly any site in England which uses the name "Temple," can probably be traced to Templar origins. The Temple Church still stands on the site of the
old Preceptory in London , and effigies of Crusading Templars can still be seen there today. The land was later rented to lawyers who use it today as Inner Temple and Middle Temple.
Several modern organizations claim links with the medieval Templars. Some, such as the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ), also known as the "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani" (OSMTH), have attained United Nations NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) status. The SMOTJ admits that their group was founded in 1804, "based on the traditions" of the medieval order, which legacy they use to promote humanitarian causes. However, there is often public confusion about the gap in time between the 14th century dismantling of the medieval Templars, and the 19th
century rise of more contemporary organizations.
According to a 2004 article in The Times, one modern group in
Hertfordshire (not affiliated to OSMTH) claims that although the
medieval order officially ceased to exist in the early 14th century,
that the majority of the organization survived underground. The
Times article states that the group has written to the Vatican,
asking for an official apology for the medieval persecution of the
Templars. In Rome in 2004, a Vatican spokesman said that the
demand for an apology would be given "serious consideration".
However, Vatican insiders said that Pope John Paul II , 84 at the
time, was under pressure from conservative cardinals to "stop
saying sorry" for the errors of the past, after a series of papal
apologies for the Crusades, the Inquisition, Christian anti-
Semitism and the persecution of scientists and "heretics" such as
Nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed
nomini Tuo da Gloriam.
Not to us, not to us, O Lord, But to thy name give glory.